Caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs) like Four Loko and Joose have been effectively banned in the state of Massachusetts. This page has answers to the most common questions students have about these beverages and the ban. If you have more questions, please email Emily, the Wellness Education Director!
As of Thursday, November 18, 2010, Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission changed the way it regulates caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs) like Four Loko and Joose, so that they’re effectively banned in the state. The ban includes ALL alcoholic beverages packaged with caffeine as an added ingredient.
CABs were banned because the combination of alcohol and caffeine is dangerous. Caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant-caffeine speeds your brain up, alcohol slows it down. Do both at once and bad things happen.
In small doses, like a rum and Coke you can buy at a bar, the risk can be manageable; but at the dose in a 23.5oz can at 10 or 12% ABV, it’s beyond the FDA’s threshold for safety. A can of Four Loko contains the equivalent of about 5 shots of vodka, plus two shots of espresso - and also, just by the way, 14 teaspoons of sugar. By comparison, the Harvard School of Public Health considers four drinks in a night the absolute max that a college age woman can safely consume.
Four Loko has opted to reformulate without caffeine or other stimulants. So instead of containing, as it did in the "classic" formula, the alcohol equivalent of about five shots of vodka, the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee, and the sugar equivalent of 14 teaspoons of sugar, it will only contain the alcohol and the sugar.
CABs are now an illegal substance; even for those 21+, possession is a violation of state law. If you know someone who still has some, encourage them to pour it down the drain ASAP.
Talk to Emily Nagoski, the Wellness Education Director. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or to set up a time to talk. She's very nice.